Oddbins will not make a profit this year but remains optimistic of moving back into the black in 2010.

Pre-tax losses were reduced by 40% to £6.2m in the year ending December 2008, but sales fell 19% to £76.1m according to the off-licence chain's latest accounts. Managing director Simon Baile said he had made "great strides towards breathing new life into the business".

"We have stopped the business losing more money than it had been and protected our margins, which is a particularly impressive performance," he said. "We have a chance of returning the business to profit in 2010 if the economy is not as bad as in 2009. We picked up a business in pretty poor shape and it will take time to recover. But we have a more stable platform to work from."

Baile said the chain needed to offer a unique range of wines to become a destination of choice and avoid competing directly with supermarkets.

Since acquiring Oddbins from Castel Freres in August 2008, Baile has delisted 1,000 wines and added another 500, including 100 from Australia that hit shops this month.

He plans to source another 500 products.

"People still want something different to what the supermarkets have to offer and if you can do that, you have a future," he said.